Washington players lament lost opportunities against West Virginia
Washington players say they're proud of their season, but wish they had played better in loss to West Virginia.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — After Washington's 69-56 defeat to West Virginia, Isaiah Thomas sat on a cold, steel chair inside a locker room at the Carrier Dome for several long minutes dressed in uniform.
"Still reliving it," he said of the loss to the Mountaineers in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. "We had chances."
That was the theme inside the Huskies' locker room.
They had chances, but defensive lapses in the second half ruined a gutty first-half performance and sent them home with a 26-10 record, thinking about blown opportunities.
"The game was in our hands and we let it slip away," sophomore forward Darnell Gant said. "That's what we can't do in situations like this.
"You don't have any room for negligence and everybody has to play hard every possession. We tried, but I guess it wasn't enough."
The Huskies will lament a second half in which they controlled the first five minutes before West Virginia overwhelmed them with superior size.
"We just let them push us around," Elston Turner said. "They out-rebounded us by 20 (49-29).
"We were trying to force them to hit outside shots and their go-to guys were doing what they needed to do in order to get them going. We couldn't fight back."
Proud of the effort
Despite the 13-point defeat to West Virginia, Thomas is proud of what the Huskies accomplished this season. "I'm so proud of my guys," he said. "We overcame so much. We'll be fine. We'll learn from this. Get better and come back next year even stronger."
Washington rebounded from a 3-5 start in the Pac-10 season and made it farther than many believed possible.
"It's a real strange feeling because we feel like we still have another game," senior forward Quincy Pondexter said. "We had such a warrior-like mentality the last couple of months, it's tough to see us lose like this."
When asked about his future plans that likely includes workouts for NBA teams while preparing for the draft, Pondexter said: "I have no idea.
"I'm going to rest and relax for a little while," he said. "Go on vacation or something."
• Former Huskies Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman chartered a jet from Boston with Rajon Rando, a former Kentucky Wildcat, and sat in the crowd for Thursday's games.
"I had to show love for my school," Robinson said. "It was important for me to be here. I haven't really seen that much of them since I left and had to be here for this."
Justin Holiday's brother Jrue, who plays for the New Jersey Nets, was also in attendance.
• Washington coach Lorenzo Romar on Pondexter: "It was a great ride for him. I'm so proud of him, how he finished up his college career. He went down when it was all said and done as one of greatest Huskies to ever put on a uniform."
• Washington is 17-16 in 14 NCAA tournament appearances and 7-5 in games under Romar.
• Pondexter finished his UW career third on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,786 points behind Chris Welp (2,073) and Brockman (1,805).
• West Virginia finished with 49 rebounds, the most for a UW opponent this season.
• Venoy Overton's two steals moved him pass Robinson (140) into fourth place (104) on UW's career chart.
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|WEST VIRGINIA (30-6)|
Percentages: FG .400, FT .765. Three-point goals: 4-15, .267 (Jones 3-4, Butler 1-4, Pepper 0-1, Mazzulla 0-1, Ebanks 0-1, Mitchell 0-2, Smith 0-2). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 4 (Smith 2, Flowers, Butler). Turnovers: 23 (Ebanks 8, Mazzulla 4, Butler 4, Smith 2, Thoroughman 2, Mitchell, Jones, Flowers). Steals: 11 (Ebanks 4, Mazzulla 3, Butler 2, Jones, Flowers). Technical fouls: None.
Attendance: 22,271. Officials: Tom Eades, Mike Eades, Brian Dorsey.